Lions Clubs International President Wirfs’ Message on Haiti
It is with great sadness that the world’s attention is focused on the devastating earthquakes in Haiti that left 1.5 million homeless, up to 200,000 dead, and countless injured and traumatized. It will take years for the country to fully recover, but we know that Lions will be there every step of the way.
Just like Lions have done with the South Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Sichuan earthquake in China and other calamities, Lions and LCIF will be there for the both the short- and long-term – providing immediate aid now but also working to rebuild communities, to restore hope and to support those affected for as long as it takes.
If there is one thing that makes Lions unique from other service agencies, it’s that we commit for the long term and we work within the affected communities – through our local Lions – to rebuild for a better tomorrow. The Haitian Lions are our brothers and sisters, members of our international family, and we will never let them down.
As you are likely aware, Lions have already moved swiftly to provide immediate assistance despite the coordination challenges. Lions relief tents are being shipped from Sweden; Lions from Canada on a mission in Haiti during the quake gave first aid assistance during the first hours and days; and Lions in the Caribbean area are sending aid over land and by sea. Additionally, a coordinating committee of Lions in Haiti, Dominican Republic and nearby countries are actively planning for the next steps, and our foundation chairperson, Al Brandel, immediate past international president, will be traveling there to meet with them beginning tomorrow.
Naturally, the response by Lions to LCIF’s Lions Hope for Haiti donation appeal has been tremendous. Within days, we have already mobilized more than US$500,000. By the time you read this message, I am sure it will be even much, much more. But we’ll need millions more if we are to help the country rebuild, to provide homes for the homeless, to rebuild schools for the children, to rehabilitate those left disabled, and to help heal so many shattered and broken hearts. So please donate what you can.
Lastly, I am extremely saddened to report that two of our Haitian Lions — our family — have perished and other Lions may have lost family members. On behalf of Lions the world over and members of our international board, we offer our sincere, heartfelt condolences and sympathies to our Lions family who have suffered such personal losses.
To our Lions family in Haiti, I commit to you that the Lions of the world will be there for you today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the year after that – and again for as long as it takes.
There will be more updates from LCIF Chairperson Brandel in the days to come. Meanwhile read the latest LCIF update on Haiti, including information on how you can make a personal online donation. I thank you all ahead of time for any further assistance you can provide.